Sustainable living: Growing tomatoes from seed with Annette McFarlane - video transcript

This page is a video transcript of the Growing tomatoes from seed with Annette McFarlane video hosted on Brisbane City Council's YouTube channel. This video is 5 minutes and 58 seconds long.

Find more Council videos at our Brisbane: Better together video hub.

The narrator for this video is Annette.

Session transcript

>> ANNETTE: Hi, this is Annette McFarlane here for Brisbane City Council. Normally, you’d find me in a Brisbane City Council library running one of their face-to-face sustainability programs. But since we can’t use libraries at this point in time, and we know people still want to garden, we’d thought we’d give you some hints and tips that perhaps you can use while you’re spending lots of time at home. 

So I sowed some seedlings, tomatoes. I must admit I got carried away a bit. And to recap what I’ve done so far to get to this stage, I took some tomato seed and I put it in little containers, with 20 millilitres of seaweed fertilizer per litre of water. I dropped the seed in and soaked it for 12 hours. 

Then I sowed it by pouring it over the top of the potting mix the next day. I’ve got 10 or 11 different varieties here, so I need to move them on to the next stage. 

This is five days after seed sowing. This stage, where we put them in to a larger container, is called ‘pricking out’. I like to grow my tomatoes in containers, from seed growing stage right through to fruit picking stage because tomatoes are very prone to a lot of pests and diseases. I find they’re much easier to manage, particularly things like root knot nematodes, if I grow my tomatoes in containers. 

To move these on to the next stage, I can plant some of them, but I can also share lots with family and friends. I’m going to prick them out. I would normally use these smaller, biodegradable containers, but I’ve found these tomatoes have a really long root system so I’m upsizing to these which are what we call forestry tubes. They’re nice and long and they will accommodate the roots that are on these tomatoes. 

There are two methods of doing this. You can either pre-fill your forestry tube. And in terms of cleaning these, they are recycled but I have soaked them in disinfectant and then just let them dry. You could wash them in warm soapy water and dry them in the sunshine – that’s a good way of cleaning them and not passing on pests and diseases. 

I’ve just filled this with potting mix and watered it, you can see it’s still dripping there, so it’s really well watered. You can just use something like this. This is a meat skewer. You can use a stick from the garden. And you make a nice, deep hole right down into that container because you’ll see when I lift out one of these tomatoes, they have a really long root system.  

This is what we call the 'two-leaf', or what we call the 'cotyledon' stage, of the tomatoes. It’s important to do this technique while the tomatoes are still quite small. Hold them by the seed leaf. This is the first leaf that the tomato produces. And when you take it out, you can see it’s got quite a long leaf system there. We need to be able to put that into the container without bending it up like this. We don’t want it to do a U-turn, we want it to grow straight down. 

We gently, using our meat skewer or whatever you’ve got, pop that into the container and then firm the soil around it. You can bury it just slightly deeper than it was in its position in the original container because tomatoes will actually take that treatment and it will help your seedlings stay upright. Pop it into its container and make sure you immediately pop a label with the variety that you’re growing and that’s really important for me because I’ve got lots of different types. 

The other technique that you can use is often what we use when we’re potting up other materials or pricking out other materials, like native tubes or anything that has a really long root system. So what we do in this technique is take our tube and half fill it with our mix and then lay it on its side so that you’ve got it half-filled on the bottom half. Then we take our seedling out, levering it out gently, doesn’t matter if all the soil falls off the root, making sure that you’re holding carefully on to those cotyledons. And then we just tip it on to its side and just pop it in like that. It’s a bit of a tricky technique to get used to but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll work it out. And then all we have to do is fill up the rest of our container. I like to hold the seedling in place and top up the rest of the container, right to the top. You can see it’s right in the middle. Fill the container right to the top because when we water it the potting mix is going to shrink so it will be at exactly the right level. Pop in your label again so you know exactly what variety it is. 

And in both cases, you would give these a really good water with liquid seaweed and they can go immediately out into full sunshine. These have been out in full sunshine today. If it’s a really hot day, perhaps leave them until the following day in the shade. It’s now late in the day for me. I often choose to put things up or prick these out in the late afternoon when it’s cooler. Water them in with liquid seaweed. Tomorrow they’ll be standing up, looking fabulous. They’ll be taking advantage of the nutrients in the potting mix. Just make sure your potting mix is not too chunky and of course, always add some extra nutrition to the potting mix in terms of a good, balanced complete fertilizer and your tomatoes will be off and growing! 

Thanks for joining me.   

Last updated:29 April 2020